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Near $40K donation helps W.Va. FD purchase battery-powered extrication tools

The Rotary Club of Cheat Lake made an impact on the community with the largest monetary donation in club history

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By Erin Cleavenger
The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Thanks to a donation from the Rotary Club of Cheat Lake, the firefighters at Cheat Lake Volunteer Fire Department will soon be equipped with some brand-new rescue tools.

The nearly $40, 000 donation — the largest monetary donation in club history, according to Jamie Summerlin, president of the Rotary Club of Cheat Lake — bought the department a complete set of battery-operated rescue tools, sometimes referred to as the jaws of life, used to extricate victims of vehicle crashes or those needing rescued from small spaces.

A set of the life-saving equipment has four main components — cutters, spreaders, rams and a power source, in this case a rechargeable battery.

When CLVFD firefighter Eric Tennant reached out to The Dominion Post about the donation, he said that while they still had to wait six to eight weeks for the manufacturing and shipping of the new tools, they were “pretty excited to get them.”

Summerlin said the club wanted to find the best way to make an impact on the Cheat Lake community and it made sense to support an organization in the heart of Cheat Lake, especially knowing that fire departments around the state are struggling financially and still work hard for their communities.

“The Cheat Lake Rotary Club has had a long history of supporting the fire department in numerous ways, " Summerlin said, "... but this was an opportunity where we knew that they were desperately needing some new equipment.”

Operationally, Tennant said the new tools will give the department the capability to perform more complicated rescues than its current set and will cut down on time spent on overall maintenance of the tools and give firefighters a quicker deployment time.

A purchase like this would otherwise have taken the department several fundraising events and “a lot of hard work, especially when we are trying to afford other things, " Tennant said.

Now that the tools have been ordered, also on the department’s wish list is the possibility of developing a substation on the other side of the lake for better coverage, as well as a boat.

“We only get so much time available to us as volunteers, especially when we’re all working full-time jobs, " Tennant said. “So that definitely slows down the process.”

When the tools arrive, the department hopes to host Rotary members for a demonstration of the essential equipment that will be used to serve area residents.

“We’re just really excited to have them, " Tennant said, “and to have the kindness of the Rotary who came through with this all the way.”

“Making this donation was a no-brainer for our club, " Summerlin said, “and for the benefit of our community.”

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